Richard E. Burton (1861-1940?)

Richard Eugene Burton.  "Born in Hartford, Conn., 1859; educated at Trinity and Johns Hopkins, receiving the degree of Ph.D. at the latter.  He was married in London in 1889, and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.  His sonnets have appeared in the Century, etc. (Crandall)

"Contributor to magazines." (Sharp)

In a Library

A wealth of silence, that is all.  The air
Lacks life and holds no hint of tender spring,
Of flowers wholesome-blowing, birds a-wing,
Of any creature much-alive and fair.
Perhaps you guess a murmur here and there
Among the tomes, each book a gossip thing,
And each in her own tongue,—yet slumbering
Seems more the bookish fashion everywhere.
And yet, could but the souls take flesh again
That wrought these words, their hearts all passion-swirled,
What companies would flock and fill the stage,
Resuming now their old, imperious reign,
Knight, noble, lady, priest, the saint, and sage,
The valor, bloom, and wisdom of a world!

The Poet

He's not alone an artist weak and white,
O'erbending scented paper toying there
With languid fancies, fashioned deft and fair,
Mere sops to time between the day and night.
He is a poor torn soul who sees aright
How far he fails of living out the rare
Night-visions God vouchsafes along the air,
Until the pain burns hot, beyond his might.
The heart-beat of the universal will
He hears, and, spite of blindness and disproof,
Can sense amidst the jar a singing fine.
Grief-smitten that his lyre should lack the skill
To speak it plain, he plays in paths aloof,
And knows the trend is starward, life divine.

An Unpraised Picture

I saw a picture once by Angelo,—
"Unfinished," said the critic, "done in youth,"—
And that was all, no thought of praise, forsooth!
He was informed, and doubtless it was so.
And yet I let an hour of dreaming go
The way of all time, touched to tears and ruth,
Passion and joy, the prick of Conscience's tooth
Before that careworn Christ's divine, soft glow.
The painter's yearning with an unsure hand
Had moved me more than might his master days:
He seemed to speak like one whose Mecca land
Is first beheld, tho' faint and far the ways;
Who may not then his shaken voice command,
Yet trembles forth a word of prayer and praise.

(Texts above from Representative Sonnets by American Poets .)

If So

If so there were a spirit, poised in peace
Above all wind-gusts in the heavens high,
And he might mark us mortals laugh or cry,
According as the glooméd clouds increase
Or suns beguile them into golden fleece,
Methinks he would be like to smile to sigh
(So placid he, so far within the sky,
And knowing God's great love can never cease),
That we the puny yet the prideful race
Must change as skies change; be like babes that fret
Whenso their yearning mother moves her breast
To ease her mothering, or turns her face
Aside a moment, reaching out to get
Some wrapping soft to lull their limbs to rest.

(Text from American Sonnets)

Compare with Thomas Hardy's Hap.

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